Updated November 21, 2019 Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for general health. Sleep deprivation is certainly not desirable. But oversleeping — or hypersomnia — can also be problematic. It can both cause and be caused by underlying health problems. Here, we’ll explore the causes and results of excessive sleepiness and determine why people sleep so much. Answers May Lie in Health Problems Certain health conditions can cause a person to sleep too much. In fact, a wide variety of health issues may cause this problem. Sleep Disorders Sleep disorders can be a major cause of excessive sleeping because they can disrupt a person’s natural sleep cycle. This disruption can leave people feeling tired and sluggish due to a lack of quality sleep. Sleep Apnea Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects more than 20 million Americans. There are two kinds: central and obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea causes the brain to fail to send messages to the body to continue breathing. This may make a person’s breathing irregular, leading to a decline in sleep quality. Central sleep apnea can also be a sign of a major underlying health issue. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing passage becomes blocked during sleep. Obesity is commonly associated with obstructive sleep apnea. Both types of sleep apnea can lead to a decline in sleep quality. This can leave a person feeling tired and unrested the next day. Narcolepsy Narcolepsy, a complex medical condition, can cause excessive sleepiness. People with narcolepsy often suffer daytime sleepiness and unintentional sleeping. Narcolepsy can also cause hallucinations and sleep paralysis. There is no known cure for narcolepsy. But behavioral and medicinal treatments are available. Bruxism Sleep bruxism is a condition that causes sufferers to grind their teeth during sleep. In severe cases, it can lead to dental injury as well as headaches. The causes can vary from person to person, but stress is closely associated with bruxism. Restless Legs Syndrome Restless legs syndrome can give a person a strong sensation they need to move their legs, hence the name. But it goes deeper. Other sensations associated with restless legs syndrome include tingling, aching, or tension within the limb rather than on the skin. These sensations tend to begin after rest has begun. Consequently, they can lead to a decline in sleep quality or prevent sleep altogether. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) refers to a circadian rhythm that doesn’t match a ‘normal’ bedtime. Officially, it’s defined as when a person’s sleep is two hours later than a conventional bedtime. If a person consistently struggles to fall asleep when they need to, they may have delayed sleep phase syndrome. The causes of DSPS are not well understood. However, those with DSPS and an early work schedule can find themselves constantly tired due to a lack of sleep. This may lead to oversleeping on weekends to make up for a sleep deficit — and thus struggling to wake up on the weekends. Mental Health Mental health issues can lead to oversleeping as well. In fact, mental health problems are closely linked with hypersomnia. Depression Depression and sleep disruption are often linked. In many cases, they appear to present a chicken or the egg scenario: Which one came first? Disrupted sleep due to depression can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness. Additionally, some medications used to treat depression can exacerbate sleep disruption. Anxiety Research shows between one-fourth to half of all people who suffer from hypersomnia also suffer from anxiety. The exact mechanisms that link the two are unknown. However, the stress caused by anxiety can lead to poor quality sleep. This can lead to a sleep deficit. Some anxiety medications can increase sleepiness, similar to depression medications. Physical Health Certain physical health problems can lead to hypersomnia. If you feel you suffer from any of these, consult your doctor. Head Injury Hypersomnia can result from a brain injury — even a minor one. Sleep disturbances have been noted in 30-70% of people who have suffered brain injuries. In general, a brain injury can lead to excessive sleepiness as well as an increase in other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Obesity Obesity and hypersomnia are closely linked. Researchers note that obesity and depression are the two conditions most often associated with daytime sleepiness. The exact underlying causes are unknown, but the link is clear. Obesity is commonly associated with sleep apnea. Combined, the two can lead to lowered energy levels and a desire for more sleep. Chronic Pain Chronic pain can lead to a variety of sleep disturbances, including hypersomnia. In general, chronic pain degrades a person’s quality of sleep and can leave them with a long-term sleep deficit. This may cause sufferers to sleep more than normal in an attempt to cope. How Much Sleep Is Too Much? Sleeping too much is certainly not desirable. But neither is sleeping too little. So, how much sleep is too much sleep? Is there a magic number? And what are the effects of sleeping too much? Everyone has different sleep needs. Generally speaking, 7-9 hours of sleep each night is recommended. More than 9 hours of sleep is too much if it’s a person’s regular pattern. The traditional sleep duration of 7-8 hours is enough for the average person. But there are exceptions. Some people naturally need more sleep than others. Other people, like athletes, need more sleep due to their high activity levels. Generally speaking, 7-9 hours of sleep each night is recommended. More than 9 hours of sleep is too much if it’s a person’s regular pattern. Sleeping more than normal once in a while is not cause for alarm. However, consistently sleeping too much can lead to numerous health problems. Heart Disease Hypersomnia is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Research indicates hypersomnia itself doesn’t directly cause heart disease. Rather, it causes metabolic and other health problems. These issues may eventually lead to a higher risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes Type 2 diabetes is associated with numerous sleep disturbances, including hypersomnia. It can also lead to an increased risk of sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome. Diabetes also causes people to urinate often when their blood sugar is high. This can make people wake up during the night, leading to disrupted sleep patterns potentially including oversleeping. As with depression, the link between diabetes and sleep disturbance is a chicken or the egg question. A lack of proper sleep can lead to weight gain and thus diabetes. At the same time, diabetes can cause a lack of proper sleep. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent diabetes and any associated sleep disturbances. Common Questions There are plenty of common questions associated with the topic of sleeping too much. Below are some of the more common questions and possible answers. Is It OK to Sleep 12 Hours a Day? In general, too much sleep is not a good sign. As noted above, sleeping more than 9 hours regularly is potentially a sign of underlying health problems. It can also lead to further health problems. Whatever the case, it’s not normal or healthy for most people to sleep 12 hours a day. Is 5 Hours of Sleep OK? Just like sleeping too much, getting too little sleep can also lead to health problems. Again, we’re only discussing sleep habits. If a person sleeps 5 hours one night, but they normally get enough, one day of less sleep is not detrimental to long-term health. But it does make motor tasks like driving more difficult. If you’re averaging 5 hours of sleep a night, try your best to allow more time for sleep. Or, question and address why you don’t sleep for longer periods. Can Getting Too Much Sleep Make You Tired? It seems so. Getting too much sleep can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and decrease your energy levels. This leads to an increased desire for sleep, which may, in turn, lead to a negative feedback loop. Can Sleeping Too Much Make You Gain Weight? There is no clear link between hypersomnia and weight gain. There may be peripheral links due to related conditions such as mood disorders or health problems. On the other hand, there is a well-established link between not getting enough sleep and weight gain. Tips to Get Better Sleep Getting too much sleep is not only relatively unhealthy, but it takes time away from other important day-to-day tasks. When you do sleep, you want to ensure the time spent resting actually restores your body and readies you for the day ahead. Getting 9 hours of sleep, and 9 hours of good sleep are two different things. Let’s talk about the best tips for better sleep so you can wake up feeling rested and ready to take on the day. For starters, invest in the best mattress, pillows, and bedding for your sleep needs. Sleeping on an old or uncomfortable bed is not conducive for a good night’s rest. Force yourself to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Reinforcing your body’s natural circadian rhythm improves your quality of sleep and makes drifting off each night a bit easier. Develop a bedtime routine to train your mind that bedtime is approaching. Whether you prefer to read a book before bed or take a hot shower, developing a routine and sticking with it builds your brains association to these nightly tasks and upcoming rest. Address aches and pains. If you wake up stiff or sore, invest in the best mattress for back pain to reinforce healthy posture and promote better sleep. Keep dinners light. A greasy, heavy meal is the last thing you want to eat before crawling into bed to go to sleep. Instead, try sleep-promoting foods like fatty fish and whole grains before heading off to bed. Turn off electronics an hour before you plan on going to sleep. Blue-light hinders melatonin production and keeps you awake, try to eliminate technology in the hour leading up to bedtime to promote melatonin production and induce drowsiness. So, Why Am I Sleeping So Much? As noted above, there are a number of potential causes of oversleeping. Similarly, there are a number of effects of oversleeping. Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for a number of key biological functions. Healthy sleep leads to a healthy mind and body, while sleep disturbances can lead to a host of health problems. Learning how to manage your sleep can lead to a significant increase in quality of life. The science of sleep, as well as sleep’s importance, is gaining traction in both the medical field and society in general. Although everyone is wired differently, there are healthy parameters people tend to fall in. When we’re well-rested, we’re healthier, happier, and more energetic. Sleeping too much can be a sign of underlying health problems. If you’re concerned about any of these problems, consult your doctor. This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a Comment Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.